Brains Beats Brawn
By Nancy Cole Silverman
By Nancy Cole Silverman
When I first started thinking about writing the Carol Childs Mysteries, I knew I wanted to create a different type of female protagonists, one that was more brain than brawn and who believed a microphone was more powerful than a forty-five. It’s a great tagline and one that I arrived at after spending nearly twenty years in news and talk radio.
I’m not Carol Childs, she’s far gutsier and more glib than I could have ever been, but creating her character allowed me to share with my readers some of the antics that went on inside a newsroom when a breaking news story was all the public could talk about.
I grew up enjoying radio. When I was a small child my father and I made a crystal diode radio set. That’s the kind of thing that looks like a toilet paper tube with copper wiring coiled around it. At night, I’d crawl into bed and put my earpieces on and listen to all old radio plays on the air. Things like Gun Smoke, Roy Rogers, and Hopalong Cassidy were my favorite.
I started working in radio when I was still in college and despite the years and the diversity of the markets and formats, there is one thing I know is standard about radio people. No matter where you are, or what they’re broadcasting, they never look like they sound.
Which I love.
And I’ve used that fact to my advantage in writing The Carol Childs Mysteries. The anonymity of a radio personality allows for two things. Loyal fans who listen to a radio show host consider that person to be their friend. And when news breaks, it’s never unusual for a listener to call in and share with their friend inside information. Things they might not tell the police. And with that information, the radio host is suddenly armed with data no other reporter or investigator may have. Plus, like the listener, few people, if any at all, know what the personality looks like. It’s a win-win for the reporter.
In book one, Shadow of Doubt, a top Hollywood agent is murdered after leaving an awards show and it’s later discovered the woman left her estate to her twin nieces. The story played out on the airwaves of nearly every Los Angeles radio station. But when I heard, the will left one-million dollars to one niece and only one-dollar to the other, I couldn’t pass on using the story. Of course, the story in no way resembles what really happened. And to add to the suspense, I made one of those nieces Carol’s next door neighbor, and not only that but Carol’s primary source for Hollywood insider information. Trouble is, when Sam becomes a suspect in the murder of her aunt, Carol is forced to choose to include her friend’s name in a news report that will certainly place her friend front and center in the court of public opinion or abandon the story. Could you do that? Choose your job over friendship? It’s a subplot, the type of thing I enjoy introducing in each of the Carol Childs Mysteries.
Book Two, Beyond A Doubt, deals with sex trafficking and the kidnapping of both white and black girls. Carol’s radio station, KCHC is a chick-lite format and would rather not include detailed coverage of such a crime. But when Carol uncovers a connection with highly empowered city official she chooses to risk her job to continue the investigation.
Book three, Without A Doubt, debuts May 24. And while it opens with a chocolatiers tour in Beverly Hills, stay tuned. Things heat up quickly when Carol finds herself in the middle of a jewelry store heist and realizes her FBI boyfriend, Eric, may somehow be involved. The robbery opens up a Pandora’s box of colorful characters, including the perpetrator of the crime who begins to call her when she is on the air, and of difficult choices that will have Carol questioning her relationships and her career all the way to the last page.
I like playing mental games. I find as much suspense built into the choices my characters make as the actual crime my protagonists is drawn to solve. And I find it interesting that with the power of the mic, Carol at no time needs a gun. A bright, thoughtful woman who understands public opinion, properly informed has as much power to persuade as a forty-five.